Tag Archives: Family

In My Anaana’s Amautik

Written by: Nadia Sammurtok

Illustrated by: Lenny Lishchenko 

For ages: 3 years and up 

Language: English & Inuktitut 

Topics Covered: Indigenous Voices, Family, Love, Comfort, Emotional Support, Social-Emotional Learning, Own Voices. 


In My Anaana’s Amautik is an incredibly sweet story that celebrates the calm and cozy emotional support that a child feels while in their mother’s amautik.  An amautik is a pouch in the back of a parka for carrying a baby, and it sounds like a wonderful way to travel.  Our little narrator describes feeling peaceful, cared for, and loved.  I really enjoyed how the senses are integrated into the storytelling such a feeling softness, smelling flowers, and especially the social-emotional aspects.

I think everyone is holding their loved ones a little closer these days, as many things are unknown.  Having that sense of peace and connection with a parent is so important for children right now, and this book exemplifies that connection wholeheartedly.  I love the way a few Inuktitut words are sprinkled in, and have a glossary in the back of the book.

This book was published by Inhabit Media but kindly sent to us by Publisher’s Spotlight.  All opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

in-my-anaana-s-amautik-by-nadia-sammurtok-lenny-lishchenko.pngNadia Sammurtok is an Inuit writer and educator originally from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. Nadia is passionate about preserving the traditional Inuit lifestyle and Inuktitut language so that they may be enjoyed by future generations. Nadia currently lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut, with her family.

6grJIxZh_400x400Lenny Lishchenko is not a boy. She is an illustrator, graphic designer, and comic maker, who will never give up the chance to draw a good birch tree. Ukrainianborn and Canadian raised, she’s interested in telling stories that people remember years later, in the early mornings where everything is quiet and still. She’s worked with clients such as Lenny Letter, Power Athletics Ltd. Alberta Venture, and Rubicon Publishing, and is based out of Mississauga, Ontario.

My Undead Life: Really Rotten Drama

Written by: Emma T. Graves

Illustrated by: Ellie O’Shea (Binny Boo)

For ages: 8-12 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Zombies, Growing Up, Family, Friendship. 


I really enjoyed this book!  It’s the second in the series, but there was a quick recap of the first book at the beginning.

What really drew me into this book was a double-hit of a POC main character, and a plot that allowed girls to be gross.  Think about it, when are girls actively encouraged to be gross and disgusting?  Behold, an entire series about a zombie girl that’s rotting from the inside out and described very creatively (and stinkily)! Tulah is a middle-school zombie, and she’s trying to keep it a secret.  Along with this big smelly secret, Tulah has the regular drama to deal with like best friends and kisses with boys (in the school play)!

This is a quick read that is interspersed with a few comic panels, which is a really unique layout that I enjoyed.  It has some typical YA/middle grade story tropes of BFF arguments and crushes but I really liked the gross twist of Tulah being a zombie, and can’t wait to read more!

About the Author & Illustrator:

Emma T. Graves has authored more than 90 books for children, and has written about characters both living and dead. When she’s not writing, Emma enjoys watching classic horror movies, taking long walks in the nearby cemetery, and storing up food in her cellar. She is prepared for the zombie apocalypse.

a05198938c6ca8cd56289c6dba6bb8aaa68dfe8e0d7a37df2fb76e48eeba4244Ellie, a coffee addict, an avid snowboarder and bad joke-teller. Completed her degree in Illustration in Plymouth and now living in Worcester with her (equally bad joke-telling) boyfriend. They both love lazy Sundays watching cartoons all day, Ellie‘s biggest inspiration for drawing! She has always loved watching cartoons and when was around 8 she decided, “Hey, I want to draw like that!” So she picked up her pencil, and here we are. Ellie loves writing and illustrating children’s books. Starting with scribbles before drawing and colouring up in Illustrator and Photoshop. When she‘s not doodling or drinking coffee, you will usually find her shopping for makeup, binge-watching cartoons or watching pug videos on Youtube.

Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border

Written by: Mitali Perkins

Illustrated by: Sara Palacios

For ages: 3-8 years

Language: English & some Spanish

Topics Covered: Family, Immigration, Border Patrol, POC-Centric Narratives, Latinx, Mexican-American, Culture & Traditions, Love, Growing Up, Global Community.

Summary: Even though this is a story centering around Christmas, we felt the need to share it sooner rather than waiting for December to come around!

This is a beautiful and emotional story about a family that is separated by a border.  Maria, her brother Juan, and their mother live in the United States.  Their Abuela lives in Mexico.  Around Christmas, they take a bus to a certain part of the border where groups of people can meet through a fence for half hour chunks of time.  They are separated by this large fence, it’s a time that Maria looks forward to.  Though the time is brief, Maria and Juan are so glad to see their Abuela, and get her kisses on their fingertips through the fence.  When their visit time is up, Maria tries to pass a scarf that she knit through the fence, but a border patrol officer stops her.  Juan begins to cry that he can’t pass through a picture he drew for Abuela, and the trio goes back to the beach.  Maria has an idea that might get their gifts to Abuela without completely breaking the rules about passing things through the fence, but will she be able to pull it off?

This is a poignant story about families separated, but still trying to share an important holiday together.  Maria and her brother are a fictional family, but they are celebrating La Posada Sin Fronteras, which is a real festival put on during Las Posadas in the border enforcement zone in San Diego.  I really enjoyed the author’s note in the back, which talks about the logistics of this yearly event when families on different sides of the border come together to celebrate together.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

largeMitali Perkins has written twelve books for young readers, including Between Us and AbuelaForward Me Back To You,You Bring the Distant Near, and Rickshaw Girl, all of which explore crossing different kinds of borders. She was honored as a “Most Engaging Author” by independent booksellers across the country and has addressed a diversity of audiences in schools and libraries, as well as at festivals and conferences. Mitali was born in Kolkata, India before immigrating to the United States. She has lived in Bangladesh, India, England, Thailand, Mexico, Cameroon, and Ghana, studied Political Science at Stanford and Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley, and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

sara_palacios-2Sara Palacios studied Graphic Design at Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico DF, and has an Associate Degree in Graphic Production Techniques from the School of Design, INBA  (National Institute of Fine Arts) in Mexico. She also has an Associate Degree in Illustration from the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana, as well as a BFA and MFA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She has been a part time faculty member at the Academy of Art University since 2014. She is the recipient of the 2012 Pura Belpré Illustration Honor Award and the 2013 Tejas Star Book Award.


Pride 1 2 3

Written by: Michael Joosten

Illustrated by: Wednesday Holmes 

For ages: Infants and up (board book)

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Pride, Acceptance, Math, Counting Books, Board Books, Activism. 


This is a very sweet counting book that focuses on a Pride Parade.  The illustrations are super diverse, and celebrate the intersections of identity that one can find at these events.  Moving from one to ten, the reader sees all sorts of bright illustrations of dj’s performing, motorcycles riding in the parade, affirming signs, and families picnicking.

I really liked that the Pride flag used was the Philly Pride flag, the one with the black and brown stripes added.  This acknowledges specifically the Black and Brown members of the LGBTQ community, and that they are often marginalized and oppressed more that white LGBTQ individuals.  This is a board book, but it ensures from the beginning that readers will learn about the diversity of people, and how everyone should be celebrated for being exactly themselves.

We were given access to this book on Edelweiss by Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

MichaelJoosten-Photo-2Michael Joosten is a children’s book writer and editor living in New York with his nugget-like Chihuahua, Olive.






F18130C2-FDA2-4635-90A8-741E4ABBCFEAWednesday Holmes is a London based artist, designer and disruptor. They create artwork inspired by and for queer people, aiming to use their art to make a difference and change minds. Wednesday has worked with a variety of clients including Chime for Change by Gucci, The Sad Ghost Club, BBC BodyPositive, The Positive Page, and the Albert Kennedy Trust. In 2019, the artist was also named by Out magazine as one of the Most Exciting Queers to Follow on Instagram. See more of Wednesday’s work here!

You Be You! The Kid’s Guide to Gender, Sexuality, and Family

Written by: Johnathan Branfman

Illustrated by: Julie Benbassat

For ages: 7-11

Language: English

Topics Covered: Gender, Sexuality, Trans Experience, Family, Discrimination (Transphobia, Homophobia, Sexism) Privilege, Intersectionality, Allyship, Attraction & Romance, Friendship


This little book hopped off the shelf and into Lee’s hands like it was meant to be! In just 73 short, beautifully illustrated pages, author Johnathan Branfman and illustrator Julie Benbassat have created the guide that I wish I had had when I was young. In very clear and sensitive language, Bronfman outlines the basics of X and Y chromosomes, but then goes a step beyond to talk about people with any variety of chromosomes, matter-of-factly stating “not everyone is born with a body that fits these expectations of male and female…people who aren’t male or female are called intersex” (16-17). Later chapters (which are short and to the point, averaging out at 10 pages or less) also make space for cis and trans gender identities, while also pointing out “some people don’t identify as either boys or girls. Many people who feel this way identify as gender non-binary, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, or gender fluid” (24)

You Be You effortlessly and explicitly includes many intersectional identities that rarely find a place in an introductory book for this age group, (not just featuring disabled people in illustrations but calling out ableism in the text) but the wording never comes across as heavy handed, a large part of that due to Bronfman’s experience as a summer camp counselor. The text is engaging and does not have the “parental lecture” quality that some early-childhood books on “tough subjects” can have. You Be You shows the reader, whether they are a parent or child, that there is no reason to be afraid of these subjects! Honesty, compassion and affirmation are the backbone of these chapters, especially the fantastic section that covers privilege and intersectionality.

And it’s not just the words that blew me away-the illustrations feature depictions of tricky subjects such as privilege and allyship in a way that I have not seen before in books for children or adults! Using the colors to represent discrimination (red) and allyship/compassion (blue) the emotions surrounding each experience are clear and comprehensible for readers of any age.

I just can’t say enough about this book-it should be available to everyone and anyone. The inclusion and true diversity represented inside the pages make this a must-read for anyone trying to learn more about identity and how to talk about challenging concepts like intersectionality and privilege with compassionate but realistic language. We hope you find it as revelatory as we did, and spread it in your circles!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Jonathan Branfman, Ph.D. is a Gender Studies researcher and children’s book author. His work focuses on LGBTQIA diversity and social justice. His book, You Be You!: The Kid’s Guide to Gender, Sexuality, and Family, is an illustrated children’s book for ages 7-11 that makes gender identity, sexual orientation, and family diversity easy to explain to children. Throughout the book, kids learn that there are many kinds of people in the world and that diversity is something to be celebrated. It covers gender, romantic orientation, discrimination, intersectionality, privilege, and how to stand up for what’s right. The book was illustrated by Julie Benbassat.

Jonathan can be contacted via his website at https://jonathanbranfman.com

Julie Benbassat is an illustrator and recent RISD graduate. You can find her in Brooklyn, NY eating soft tofu stew. Her work delights in the eccentricities of the natural world, indulges in the fantastical, and highlights the bridge between the cute and the horrific. In spare moments, she relishes reading sassy nonfiction, hiking wooded expanses, and watching bad (but good) horror movies.

The Girl Who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney

Written by: Alice B. McGinty

Illustrated by: Elizabeth Haidle

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Space, Women in Science, Family, Historic Events, Historical Figures, Astronomy. 


Venetia is a young girl who lives in Britain with her mother and grandfather.  She is fascinated by space and the planets, memorizing facts about them and asking all sorts of questions.  Venetia is also interested in mythology, so when there is a newspaper article about a new planet being discovered, she beings to imagine what it might be called.  Venetia thinks is should be called Pluto, after Neptune’s brother.  Her grandfather agrees to write a note suggesting the name to an astronomer friend of his.  Venetia waits for a long while, until they get good news!  The observatory that found Planet X love the name Pluto and will name is such.

This is such a cute story!  We had no idea that a young space enthusiast named Pluto, and she’s in fact the only child to ever name a planet.  In the back of the story is an Author’s Note about Venetia, including a photo of her as a child.  This is a great book (because who doesn’t love space?) that tells a story of how STEM truly is for everyone, and young people can contribute valuably at any age.  A great idea knows no boundaries!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

aliceAlice B. McGinty is the author of this book!  Here is some information from her website: “First of all, I am a Writer. Ever since I was small, I’ve played with words and made up poems, jump rope rhymes, and stories. When I got older, I wrote those words down. Then, when I was in my 20s, I began to send what I wrote to publishers. After many years of rejections, I got my first acceptance – a short poem in a magazine. Later, that was followed with a story in Jack and Jill Magazine, and then books, both fiction and nonfiction. Now, I’ve written almost 50 books and after all these years, I still love to play with words.”

wb8vp8NqElizabeth Haidle is a freelance illustrator living in Portland Oregon. She was raised in the outskirts of the city and recently moved back after attending college in various cities, living in Seattle, Philadelphia, and Taos—earning an MA in Illustration along the way, at Savannah College of Art and Design. After working as a freelance artist and art educator for many years, she has turned her attention to books. In 2017, she illustrated her first graphic novel, I, Parrot, written by Deb Olin Unferth. She has three more books out in Spring of 2019: Before They Were Authors….Famous Writers as Kids, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, The Girl Who Named Pluto, written by Alice B. McGinty, Schwartz and Wade, and The Pipers in the Woods, adapted from a Philip K. Dick short story, Mascot Press.

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage

Written by: Selina Alko

Illustrated by: Sean Qualls & Selina Alko

For ages: 4-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Activism, Legislation, Segregation, Family, Interracial Marriage, Modern Black Freedom Struggle, Own Voices, Non-Fiction, Historical Figures, Family, Love. 


We are so excited to have another round of #sweetsandsocialjustice in conjunction with #thefictionfeast (even though this is a non-fiction story) and made a classic oatmeal cookie to pair with this fantastic book, The Case for Loving. This delicious recipe can be found by following our link in bio, and don’t forget to tag us if you make them…we want to see!

This is a beautiful book that recounts the court case from Virginia that challenged anti-miscegenation laws, laws that banned interracial marriage.  Richard and Mildred loved each other very much, and had 3 children. Richard was a white man and Mildred was African American and Native American.  The pair didn’t want to be arrested and jailed, but decided to get married in Washington DC.  Shortly after, the police raided their house in the middle of the night and declared their marriage license invalid in the state of Virginia.  After getting out of jail, they left their families behind and moved to D.C. where they could raise a family.  Richard and Mildred decided to fight the laws, and took their case all the way to the Supreme Court!

This book is perfect for little ones to help understand that the laws haven’t always been fair.  Especially today, interracial marriages are something everyone is familiar with and most of us have friends and family that are in interracial relationships.  I am personally using this book in conjunction with some others to make comparisons with LGBTQ marriage equality.  This court case was a turning point in marriage equality, and I am so appreciative that there is a children’s book created by an interracial couple, to explain this historic event to readers.

Recipe: Oatmeal Cookies

1.5c rolled oats

1.5c all purpose flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 for myself)

1/2t baking soda

1/2t baking powder

1t cinnamon

2 sticks melted butter

1/2c dark brown sugar

1/2c maple sugar (can use white sugar instead)

1t salt (I omit when I only have salted butter in my fridge!)


1t vanilla extract

Whisk dry ingredients together.  Mix butter, sugars, egg, salt, and extract together.  Combine all until just mixed, put into the fridge for a half hour.  Preheat oven to 325, scoop cookies, bake 18-22 minutes.  Makes about 16 large cookies.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

IMG_1142_JPGIt is no wonder that award-winning writer-illustrator Selina Alko now spends her days melding words and mixed-media art to convey stories of hope and inspiration—as well as an alternative viewpoint. Growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia with a Turkish father who spoke seven languages and taught painting, and a mother who worked in the family’s century-old metal recycling business, she was surrounded by the melody of words and stories from different places, and varied visual possibilities.

The skills her parents imparted to her as a child, the creative environment that supported them, and the diverse world view she was privy to, have inspired and fueled her ever since and are evident in her children’s books; The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage (co-created with Sean Qualls); Why Am I Me? (by Paige Britt and co-illustrated with Qualls); and B is for Brooklyn, which she wrote and illustrated herself, and many more.

“Write what is closest to your heart. What do you care about? What excites you? What makes you feel sad?,” said Selina when asked what advice she would give to an aspiring writer.

Now as the mother of two children, Selina looks to carry on some of the traditions that encouraged her talents and world-view by holding “family art nights.” Her son loves to create detailed, realistic drawings of rap and hip hop artists; her daughter is more free form and uses bold colors and broad brush strokes to create her works. It fills Selina with pride and wonderment as her kids learn to express themselves and cultivate a love of art.

Sean-QuallsSean Qualls finds inspiration everywhere. Growing up in the 70’s in central New Jersey, his family didn’t have much money for art supplies but he made the best of what was available; discarded paper, blank end pages from old books and sometimes walls much to his mother’s chagrin. Some of his earliest inspirations were the crayons and coloring books his mom would buy for him and his older sister, drawing and handwriting competitions with classmates and an illustrated bible he received for Christmas in the 2nd grade.

He moved to Brooklyn to attend art school at Pratt Institute. After only a year and a half he dropped out but continued to educate himself while working full-time at the Brooklyn Museum.

Sean’s books and illustrations often explore history and non-fiction subjects. His fine art focuses on race & identity and the intersection of history & mythology, ultimately examining how we create our own identities or allow them to be scripted to for us.  Together his paintings and illustrations reveal  simultaneously unique and universal moments that reveal the human spirit.

Sean has also illustrated Emmanuel’s Dream (Schneider Award recipient) written by Laurie Ann Thompson, Giant Steps to Change the World written by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee and Before John Was a Jazz Giant (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor) written by Carole Boston Weatherford. He lives in lives in Brooklyn where you can also find him DJing on occasion.